Detroit water department checking for illegal hookups amid halte - KMSP-TV

Detroit water department checking for illegal hookups amid halted shutoffs

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DETROIT (WJBK) - Water shutoffs are on hold but not for scofflaws. Over the next two weeks Detroit Water and Sewerage Department contractors will check up on roughly 9,000 homes where the water was shut off for illegal hookups.

"If it's not off then we have to turn it off," contractor Wayne Pascoe says.

"That means they're stealing water?" Fox 2 reporter Randy Wimbley asks.  

"It means someone has tampered, probably, with the box," Pascoe says.

That's putting it nicely.

The water department set off outrage and protests when it launched an aggressive shutoff campaign back in March to collect on unpaid bills. Not too long after, people were offering to turn residents' water back on for $50 using the same tools as water shutoff crews.

If you're caught with that illegal hookup you'll to pay a $250 fine. The second time around there's a $500 fine plus a $660 reconnection fee.

Often times, the people who get the water flowing illegally pack the hole with dirt or concrete to make it hard for contractors, like Pascoe, to turn it back off.

The water department put shutoffs due to non-payment on hold to give people more time to pay up or enroll in assistance programs. Delinquent customers owe around $90 million.

Of the 9,000 houses the water department shut off, those checking up on them now expect half to have the water on illegally.

The water department collected about $2 million in unpaid bills since starting the shutoffs and hopes to collect more now there's a lull in action.
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